2016 Revision of Beginning Bridge Book 1

In order to start a, perhaps lively, discussion, here is the text of a letter that I recently sent to EBED.

This past year we, at Beckenham Bridge Club, have been running a beginners course using the revised EBED Beginning Bridge Book 1. Two years ago, we ran a similar course using the previous version of the book. We found the older version an excellent basis for our course but, I am sorry to say, I am very disappointed with the new edition and find that nearly all the changes have made the book poorer.

Above all else, beginners to bridge need clarity and consistency. Furthermore, they need a body of examples that conform accurately to the system they are learning. Unfortunately, the changes have spoiled the book in these respects.

Opening 1NT with a 5 card major. The new version instructs opening 1NT with ALL balanced hands, including those with a 5 card major (p.26). Yet the examples contradict this (see p.45, Hand 1; p. 51, Hand 1; p. 52 Hand 7 – in this last the contradiction is explicit). It is also explicitly contradicted by the advice on p. 116 and the reference to 5 card minors on p.153 is wrong. A similar problem arises with changing the requirement for a 1NT overcall to 15-17 from 16-18. Now East’s hand in Example 4 on p. 110 is no longer a “minimum” 1NT overcall. I am not just complaining about the lack of revision of some of the examples. There is a vast store of hands and articles (including Sally Brock’s), on the EBED site and elsewhere and also the excellent No Fear Bridge, all using the previous scheme. Even if this small tinkering with the system had some advantages (though on the whole we think the opposite) it cannot be worth the disadvantage of sowing doubt and uncertainty when learners access the available body of examples.

The new Chapter 7 is now very confusing for learners. To try to teach both strong and weak 2 bids to beginners is a total fiasco. The book has to get off the fence and teach one or the other. If there is a demand for both to be included, they should be in quite separate independent alternative sections. To tell beginners learning weak 2’s to use strong 2’s in fourth position is a disaster.

The altering of the order of topics without making appropriate changes in the text is unfortunate. This is mainly the case with Stayman. Telling learners to use Stayman over an opening 2NT and even including examples (pp.115, 122 and 125) cannot come before the chapter on Stayman. Also, logically, pre-emptive bidding should come just after competitive bidding when the learners can see how effective it can be in hands where otherwise good contracts are easily reached. Certainly, if the weak 2 option is taught, it does not help to be told that a weak 2 is a ”mini pre-empt” (p. 120) if this comes before the chapter on pre-empts.

I feel that the revision has not been properly thought out and certainly the changes have not been followed through. Tarting it up with graphics of post-it notes does not compensate.



  • Yep you are right JohnE. It doesn't help that there are these "uncertaincies". However, It is a start and with a bit on input from us we can all benefit from this. Perhaps we need to know how you (and others) are planning to deal with these points in your lessons so that there might be some consistancy in "our" bridge teaching world. Perhaps the organisers of the books could add their input as to how they expect us to get around these points without overly affecting our students. I would say that there may be other points that need discussion and I don't think we should let that detract from what seems to be to be a very good start and something that was needed to be done. After all we all want more people playing and enjoying bridge around the Country.

    Best wishes


    P.S. would be nice to see more "names" adding comments and suggestions. Can I suggest that you are having difficulty getting clearance to this forum that you contact the EBU.

  • I agree with JohnE that there a range of inconsistencies in the new book one although some of these may well have existed earlier
    2 more to add 2 to JohnE list (There are more)
    P 91 “Practice hands on defending against no trumps”
    Hand 3 includes an overcall which is not covered until the following chapter
    P 128 “Practice opening weak 2 bids”
    Hand16 includes a Splinter Bid which is not covered until the end of book2!
    Whilst these anomalies may be easy to handle with a small number of students, in classes of 30-40 and 10 mentors, I experience no end of questions and the students certainly suffer from “disadvantage of sowing doubt and uncertainty” early in their bridge life.
    Some of these anomalies are noted in various parts the Teacher Notes but it would be useful, if they are to remain, to have them collated. It would be helpful to have them on a single lookup page. On this forum?
    On a similar point. I advise my students to absorb themselves in Bridge and direct them to the EBU Magazine, However, the beginners article, Acolytes, whilst informative reading to me, students find it confusing and even the EBU includes a disclaimer for the authors “personal teaching style. For style read variation from the BforA books.
    Come on EBED help the teachers.

  • In the absence of any response, I have summarised "anomalies" that JohnE and I have identified - so far. For the benefit of teachers.** Anyone any more?**

    Book 1
    Chapter Topic Edition Page Title Issue
    3 Opening one of a suit 2016 46,51,52 Opening 1NT With 1NT including 5 card majors some of these hands now out of step with text.
    4 Declarer play 2016 76 Practice hands on declarer play with trumps Hand 7 has the wrong description. South wins A clubs not north
    5 Defence 2016 91 Practice hands on Defending against No trumps. Hand 3 includes an overcall not covered until the following chapter
    6 Competitive Auction 2016 110 Overcalling in NTs Hand 4 does not have minimum holding for 1NT overcall now 15-17 rather than 16-18
    6 Competitive Auction 2016 T93 1NT overcalls-Teachers notes. Lesson 21 Notes say Stayman next but not until lesson 28
    7 Higher level opening 2013 115 Weak 2s or Strong 2s Which one to teach, decision needed
    7 Higher level opening 2016 128 Practice opening weak 2s Hand 16 includes a Splinter not covered until the end of Book 2
    7 Higher level opening 2016 115 The 2NT opening bid Stayman referenced but not covered until Chapter 8
    7 Higher level opening 2016 116 The 2club opening bid Summary of bids says opening 1NT with no 5 card major contrary to new teaching
    7 Higher level opening 2016 120 Weak 2s Text mentions “mini pre-empt” pre-empt not covered until next chapter

    Sorry about the formatting I had problems dropping in an image, does anyone know what image this software allows?

  • How I dealt with the hands on Book 1 P45 (which open 1H or 1S) was I just let my beginners open 1NT and then later we had a discussion about a "good" major and a "poor major". This discussion didn't used to happen until book 2 but I agree it would be simpler to have a hand which didn't look so much like a 12-14 1NT hand.

  • John, thanks for summary of "anomalies" I will circulate to my teachers and also ask them to contribute. Douglas

  • Thank you for all of the above comments. There is a list of errata and corrections can be made when we need the next reprint.

  • The bottom post-it sticker on P21 refers to small and grand slams, and the text to a slam. These are unnecessary complications to introduce at this stage - I don't believe slams should be mentioned until Chapter 7.

    Declarer play examples/exercises on pp 62, 65, 71 and 73 are based on contracts at the 6/7 level. I accept that there is no mention of the term 'slam' and there is no reference to the bidding, but it would be better to provide examples just at the Game level.

    P73, Hand 4 - the lead should presumably be the HQ, not HK.

    P112, Hand 5 - West has 11 HCPs not 10.

    IanC - coming late to the discussion

  • Thank you TreshamBridge. We will make sure these mistakes are corrected in the next reprint

  • At last weekend’s EBED teachers conference Andy Margery’s, EBED chairman, dropped a clue that EBED were planning a new version of the Red book for late 2019. Please, please, please can we first have some discussion of the planned changes to this version first. Andy hinted that we were going to have weak jump overcalls, for example. I also asked Andy if we could have notification of the planned changes several months in advance. This is so we have time to update our materials examples in advance of the change. I got the feeling that he did not think this would be possible. I strongly feel that unless EBED can give us this notice they should defer publication of a new version.

    Someone asked on this thread how teachers coped with these changes, The answer for me is that I am moving more and more towards having my own teaching materials that I can keep control of and away from the Ebed teaching books that get changed arbitrarily and without notice or consultation.

    Even things like page numbers changing is quite an annoyance!

  • I will also add one other point which is that playing Weak Twos in Three Suits does really effectively change the range of a 1-level opening bid of a suit from 12-19, to 12-20, or even 12-21. As a teacher you might want to gloss over this initially, but I have changed my point range for 1 of a suit to 12-20 in my own crib sheet http://bridgeclass.co.uk/TinyFileManager/resources/files/66///basic acol weak 2.pdf

  • edited June 2019

    @tonys said:
    At last weekend’s EBED teachers conference Andy Margery’s, EBED chairman, - Sorry Andy Margetts

  • heres he latest summary

  • With regard to Weak Twos vs Strong Twos I think the decision is clear-cut. Sever ALL ties with Strong Twos, delete ALL references to it/them. Also, tie up with NoFearBridge.
    There is still some ambiguity, however, as to what to do with a hand that meets the old-fashioned Strong Two opening. Andrew Robson seems to favour just opening at the 1-level as he believes that someone else will bid, giving you the chance to bid again to show strength - if nobody does, then game probably wasn't on anyway.
    I prefer the idea, however, following on from NFB, of opening 2C to show ANY strong hand (~16+??). NFB's "Waiting bid" leaving space to explore without getting too high. If you have a genuinely very strong hand (equivalent to the old Acol 2C), then a jump rebid would show that.
    Better brains than mine might be able to pick holes in this, but whatever is decided it needs to be simple to explain and consistent with NFB.

  • Well we need to be careful about what we teach and what we omit. Students will still need to understand what a strong two is, or could be, otherwise they will not fully understand why they are opening a strong 2 Clubs. Whatever point limit we tell them to use they need to use it. Trying to get them to understand the basic limits of 12 to 19 is hard enough without telling them straight away that " Yes, it says that in the book but I want/need you to read my lips". Once they have done the 30 week course (or 12 week FastTrack) they need time to understand and use what they know already. Playing in a club is daunting enough for many of them already without "spiking" their wheels. Too many options cause errors and we want them to enjoy their bridge and have a recognised system that many of their peers can play.
    It is all very well saying we should "tie up with No Fear Bridge" but most players do not have the opportunity/desire/funds to "link" up with "no Fear Bridge ". Anyway, who knows what changes NFB will be making in the near future. What if they follow the "predicted" future that we will all be using the strong No Trump and five card majors. What then? Ah yes they do that already with American Bidding.
    Yes it is disappointing that the books have errors but as I said in my comment in September 2018 we have to be consistent and we all need to take the same course. Perhaps EBED needs to add an erratum slip to the books so that teachers/students know there is an error and are given the "corrected" information.


  • Hello Chaz
    At the recent Teachers Conference a lot was made of ebed tying up with NFB. Leigh Harding gave a presentation on how teachers could use the extensive resources available on the NFB website. I got the very distinct impression that ebed will actively point students in NFB's direction as a learning aid. Admittedly, NFB goes beyond BfA (with its Advancer Zone), but for Beginners and Improvers I believe the intention is that they should be in-step.
    Whether or not students decide to sign-up to NFB isn't relevant, what is important is that if ebed is going to tie up with NFB, they should try to be mutually consistent.
    I think you might have misunderstood my comments about Strong Twos. If you have an 8-playing trick type hand that you would have opened with 2H say, using strong twos, you can choose to either open 1H (as per AR) or 2C, rebidding 2H after the usual 2D (waiting) response. The latter can be explained without needing to make any reference to "Strong Twos", simply strength of hand, HCPs, (near-)certain winning tricks.

    I could well be wrong - ebed might just be pointing students at NFB without any intention of collaborating. That would be a shame, and you would be right about students then becoming confused.

    Notwithstanding all of this, you are right that the primary aim should be accuracy and consistency.


  • In my opinion you should remove the Special Case on p35. Where is says that the 1NT response to 1C shows 8-10 pts. I think this is pretty advanced and not for beginners. Other books like Klinger do not suggest this. This addition must have crept in over time - in an older version of the red book (2005) it was not there.

  • I suggest you add the rule of seven to the section on holding up p 61. It is one of the topics I always cover, and it is a very useful guideline.

    By the way I suggest you rewrite that section "The Hold-up and the duck": Beginners do NOT need to know the subtle distinction in meaning between holding up and ducking. That section looks like it was added in at the request of someone who wanted to be a stickler for the correct use of bridge terms.

  • In the Quiz on p89 on opening leads you have an example Q6, where you lead J from J10x against a 3NT Contract. What to lead from a 3-card holding including a sequence of 2 honours is not coveredin the table of standard leads. I suggest you change this example to be J108.

    P.S. I have attached a page from "How to defend a bridge hand" by William Root that does cover this.

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